OPM Disability Reirement under FERS: Dylan Revisited

The British have the Beatles; America has Dylan.  Martin Scorsese’s ongoing documentaries covering the life of Bob Dylan (“No Direction Home” and “Rolling Thunder Revue”) reveals the obvious differences as well as depicting interesting tidbits of entertainment value, for those even remotely interested.

Dylan is the quintessential American — of the lone troubadour; the composite of a self-made star from multiple personalities, including Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie and Muddy Waters; and despite playing off and on with “The Band”, forever the loner — remote, distant and undefinable.

Bands come and go — The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, etc., and when they disband and disburse, some individually go on to similar heights of fame; but of Dylan, he has always stood apart with his soulful voice, his trance-like story-telling, and the enchanting universe of words conveyed on the airlift of music that brings one into a lyrical fantasyland.

In the end, Robert Allen Zimmerman remade himself from the outskirts of a rural town into the spotlight of musical genius over a span of a time when cultural revolutions were shaking the very foundations of a country at war.  We all yearn to be like him — if not for the fame, then for the uniqueness that becomes apparent when you listen to his voice: Not quite on beat and never able to be defined.

Whoever “Zimmerman” was, we will never know; for what we know is the folklore surrounding even the whispered utterance of “Dylan” — a name and word which provokes images, stories and memories that have cluttered the shadows of a legend like the barnacles encrusted on the underside of a drifting boat.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the tragedy of the medical condition can be likened to the duality found in Dylan Revisited — that the person who is beset with the medical condition is not the same person who once forged ahead with a promising career with the Federal Government or the U.S. Postal Service.

Consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law; for, in the end, the Dylan of today is not the Zimmerman of his past, just as the Federal or postal employee who suffers from a medical condition is not the same person as before the medical condition, and the whole point of filing for Federal Disability Retirement is to get back to a place where we can define ourselves within the uniqueness of who we are and were.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Responding to a Denial

More than ever, OPM is denying Federal Disability Retirement applications.  Whether by deliberate design, tightening of legal criteria, imposition of an informal quota system or “just because”, it is clear that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has instituted a campaign of denying Federal Disability Retirement benefits to applicants seeking it.

Is there a basis in the law?  Are all denials justified?  Have they become more focused upon certain aspects of the legal criteria while ignoring others?  Is there a “typical” denial letter?

Some denials retain little to no justification; others appear to provide some rational basis; still others counter with detailed reasonings as to the legal basis for the denial.  The spectrum of the legal basis varies; and then, of course, there are approvals that seem to pass through with nary an objection.  Each case is unique because of the inherent circumstances surrounding the basic foundation of the health or medical condition and its relationship to the Federal or Postal worker’s specific job elements.

FERS Disability Retirement is unique and different from Social Security Disability benefits because the standard of eligibility is distinctively and identifiably unique: Social Security, generally speaking, requires a showing of “total disability”, whereas FERS Disability Retirement merely mandates a much lesser proof of being”unable to perform” one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job functions.

In the end, whether OPM has instituted a policy showing greater arbitrariness in its last Federal Disability Retirement determinations — or not — there is “The Law” which continues to guide and define. Consult with an experienced Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law before frantically trying to respond to a denial of a Federal Disability Retirement Application.  For, after the First Denial and the need to go to the Reconsideration Stage of the process, it is all a matter of the law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement under FERS: Those cracks we avoid

Remember the superstition of cracks in the sidewalk?  How we used to avoid them for fear of calamity, and worse yet, of the hand that reaches from beneath the bed late at night when parents are fast asleep and the screams that curl the midnight silence may never be heard because the world is not quite what it appeared to be?

Or, as we are walking along the normal route of direction, to get from point A to destination B, our thoughts as a child were: If I hop over the pebble on the road, suddenly and without any notification of precursor in judgment, the fate and destiny of the entire universe would be altered, because what was meant to never happen was changed by the course of my behavior that was never predicted, never meant to be, and failed to follow the normal course of a destined future.

And so, the child who nonchalantly walks with his parents suddenly, and without explanation, jumps up into the air and lands on the other side of the cracks we avoid.  In that moment — did the future change? Did the fate of mankind become altered forever?  How would we know?  Is the child who steps over those cracks any different from the adult who believes in falsehoods — and who poses the greater danger?  Where did we get those beliefs, and how did we come to accept them?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who by necessity must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the care which one must take when making decisions in preparing, formulating and filing for an OPM medical retirement can be likened to those cracks we avoid: is the information gathered and relief upon “true”?  Have you been told the “right” things?  Are your sources dependable?  Or, are you proceeding along a path and stepping upon those cracks that should be avoided?

Consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law is a decision which each individual must make based upon particularized circumstances; and if it is only to avoid those cracks we see — or cannot foresee — it is well worth it to separate the superstitions from the truth of an unavoidable reality.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: When once…

When once the dream was left unfulfilled, and yet the future appeared so boundless and promising; when once the time spent was so precious as to bring memories and tears of joy for the privilege to live; when once the rains came but not to dampen the sorrows of yesteryear, but to wash away the scars of today’s longing; and when once, there was a time forever bottled so that tomorrow would be remembered as a mere passing thought, and the day after a haven for memories yet to be forgotten.

When, once, we took for granted that which we never think about, reflect upon, and youth’s folly continued for a day and a dawn only to be wistfully forgotten when once the call from Mom’s flustered voice shouted at us to come in for dinner, when the crickets were still singing their mournful melodies in the quiet of evening’s end.

Looking back can hold one back, especially if the remorse of what once was makes you pause in a day when even an hour cannot be spent whittling away the time that cannot be recaptured.  There is time enough for remorse and regret; time yet to remember and recall with nostalgic warmth for days of yore; but as the world turns in the “here” and “now”, the daily grind of duty’s call and obligations which cannot be avoided, must first be attended to.

“When, once…” is to be set aside until the last breath when the drifting dreams of yesteryear’s pausing regret begins to foreshadow today’s memories of a bygone time.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, time remains of the essence, and while sickness and deteriorating health may freeze one into desiring a time of remembrance back, “when once…” — it is not the right time, yet.

This is still the time to fight on; it is the moment to preserve and protect; and while a Federal Agency or a Postal Facility may have dampened your spirits or attempted to make you into a downtrodden employee whose best years are behind you; nevertheless, it is time to assert your rights and carry on the good fight.  Preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you as a Federal or Postal employee are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a good part of that fight to preserve and protect your rights.

Why should you fight for them?  Because, when that time comes when you say to friends or family that, “When, once…” — the “filler” should be: “When, once…they tried to deny me, I fought and won.”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Trials of error

Normally, of course, the common usage of the terms involve the combination with a conjunctive — of trial and error, implicating a process whereby the latter term triggers the former (i.e., the “error” forces us to engage another round of trials, which then may lead to further errors resulting in further trials, etc.) into a potentially lengthy repetition of attempts, each with the advancement through possession of greater knowledge gained from the errors identified and witnessed.

The concept as it stands, however, implies something further:  of the experience of each error and the process within such error and what the error may implicate.

Human beings have an expansive capacity to “move on” quickly beyond errors made, and perhaps that ability of adaptability is an evolutionary advantage for a species that makes a fair number of errors that, in other contexts and within other species, would spell the extinction of the species itself.

Errors compounded go beyond the experience of the trial itself; sometimes, errors lead to other errors, and thus the “trials and errors” in their aggregate allow for greater knowledge and adaptability depending upon the nature of each error and of many trials.  But it is the trial of the error that often needs to be paused, and allowed to ponder upon, before going on to the next trial, lest the lesson from any one error has not been sufficiently learned before a further trial is engaged.

Sometimes, of course, the trial of an error, if not sufficiently comprehended and reflected upon, is the very reason why further errors of judgment follow, precisely because not enough time has been spent upon the nature of the error itself.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it is important to recognize the trial of an error — for, with a Federal Agency or the Postal Service, one is encountering a behemoth of intransigence when attempting to garner any sympathy or loyalty.

Medical conditions themselves are “trials” enough, and when a Federal Agency or the Postal Service begins the process of punishing the Federal or Postal employee for taking too much SL or LWOP, or even invoking FMLA rights, the “error” is not so much the trial of patience, but rather, in thinking that the Federal Agency or the Postal Service was ever on your side to begin with.

While a Federal Disability Retirement application may not be a strictly “adversarial” process, one must always consider whose “interests” are being looked after in each trial encountered:  the interests of the Federal Agency or the Postal Service, or of one’s own?

The trial of error often begins with a mistaken identification of a more fundamental error on the part of the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker, and for the Federal or Postal worker contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the first step in preventing the greater trials of multiple errors is to consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney for Federal Disability Retirement Claims: The unread novel

Is it as irrelevant as the one that is read but quickly forgotten?

Writers are a funny breed; their very existence, significance and existential relevance depends upon the interests of others.  Isolation is inherent in the vocation itself; for every writer is a singular and lonely depiction of an inner battle of cognitive construction, the soliloquy upon a blank slate endeavoring to create, to master, to show and to imagine; and of what nightmares and horrors the writer must endure in order to transfer self-doubt upon the paper, or the virtual existence that spans the spectrum from despair unto public acknowledgment.

The unread novel exists in drawers and cubbyholes forgotten and unopened; and like Bruno Schulz’ lost novel, The Messiah, the shot that killed before the fruition of greatness came to be may reverberate with a nothingness that no one knew, precisely because, to not know something is to not experience that which cannot be grasped, where ignorance is merely the negation of an emptiness never experienced.  Which is worse — to be never read, or to be read and forgotten, or to be read, remembered, then slowly dissipate from the minds of appreciation over an anguished length of time?

The unread novel sits like the individual who once was recognized — a solitary figure who was once appreciated, known, recognized and even sometimes applauded; then the starkness of anonymity reminds us all that such recognition is fleeting, temporal, like the winds of history that grant accolades to rising stars only while the smile lasts and the last salute is given to the parade that slowly fades.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition has begun to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job and positional duties, the feeling that the Federal or Postal worker undergoes is often likened to the unread novel that sits in the drawers of anonymity.

Perhaps you were once recognized and appreciated; now, it is as if the medical condition itself has become an infectious disease that everyone else is loathe to catch.  The Federal Agency or the Postal Service is beginning to treat you like The Plague.  You fear that your career — like the Great American Novel that was once thought to be a success — is coming to an end, and the harassment and furtive looks have become emboldened in a way you previously could not have imagined.

It is then time to begin to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you as a Federal or Postal employee are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  For, like the unread novel, the drawer within which you sit in solitary despair will not make the unfamiliarity of it become a great success; that, in the end, is a decision only you can make, as to a future where the unread novel remains so, or a step forward to change the course of human destiny.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The realization

In most cases, it is not as dramatic a moment as we all tend to think; it is rarely “The X”, as in the penultimate juncture of enlightenment where the “The” is prefatory to the noun, as opposed to a more general article such as, “A realization” — meaning, one among others, or just another one amidst many.

Most such moments are not “Aha” ones, where there is a sudden and profound revelation, like the proverbial Road to Damascus experience or the Gestalt shift in thinking.  Instead, the realization of X is more often than not subtle, incremental and a slow progression towards an acknowledgment, observable and quantifiable over a period of many months or years.  Whether we make it into a momentous period, a critical juncture in our lives, or as one of many tokens of change often depends upon how we view each segment that results in a modification of a life judged in its totality.

Aristotle’s belief is that a person’s life cannot be fully evaluated until much later in life.  Indeed, what do we make about a person’s career, reputation and overall “life” when a critical mistake is made at the beginning — say, in the early years of youth when one is more susceptible to the vicissitudes of emotional upheavals and pursuance of desires without thought?  Or, of the fool who, in old age, does something similarly rash?  Do we make an evaluation at the eulogy and excuse the one bad bit?

Something like, “Now, we all knew X.  He was a great man.  He had, of course, that one incident, but …”.  Is it better to have the negative incident occur early in life so that you can rectify and redeem for the remainder?  Or, is it more acceptable and palatable to live an exemplary life, then commit an error in later life so that you can excuse it as the “folly of age”?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal employee’s job and duties, “the realization” that something has to change will mostly come about over a period of time — incrementally, perhaps even subtly, and then one day there is a determination that has to be made that priorities of life need to be reordered and modifications to a life of struggle necessitates modifications.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is the necessary next step after such a realization.  Preparing, formulating and filing an effective OPM Disability Retirement application is the natural course of events once the Federal or Postal employee recognizes that change must occur.

Consulting with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law is also a good next step — for that points to the realization that not all things in the universe are known, and some things may need some further guidance in pursuit of a gargantuan effort required to go up against a behemoth of a bureaucracy — OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire